Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How to choose a medical school

Feeling confused? You’re not alone… Applying to medical school is like asking someone to marry you. This might seem like an exaggeration, however over your lifetime you will spend more hours working than you will spend awake with your life partner. Like marriage, being a doctor will change who you are, influence where you live, and affect what you can do.

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The challenge of adult language learning

Adult migrants often struggle to learn the language of their new country. In receiving societies, this is widely seen as evidence that migrants are lazy, lack the required will power or, worse, actively resist learning the new language as an act of defiance towards their new community. Unfortunately, most of those who point the finger at migrant language shirkers vastly underestimate the effort involved in language learning.

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Dental caries – what is it, and why is it important?

Dental Caries, more widely known as tooth decay or cavities, is the most prevalent disease in man. It is currently the main reason for tooth loss. Essentially, it involves the breakdown of teeth due to bacterial activity (from simple sugars that we eat in our food), and if not controlled – will continue to develop and progress for a patient’s entire life. Despite this, dental caries is easily preventable.

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Research skills, transferable skills, and the new academic imperative

The challenges afflicting higher education in the US are many and multifaceted, and much has been written about the transformation (or full-blown identity crisis) of the academic institution and its place in society. Much of the controversy has to do with the institution’s responsibilities toward its students, its employees, and the community, with some claiming that “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” is no longer a sufficient offering.

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The top 10 most common research mistakes (and how to avoid them)

As the saying goes, we learn by our mistakes. And so it goes for virtually all research scientists, with most mistakes occurring during their formative years when they are still being mentored. While missteps in the research process are not usually catastrophic, the risks of allowing them to occur unchecked are many: personal safety is at stake, as are the careers and reputations of individuals, departments, and entire institutions.

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Making the case for quality: research quality assurance in academic training programs

Successful scientific research requires an enormous investment of resources, education and effective mentoring. Scientists must be innovative, organized, flexible and patient as they conduct their research. Those entrusted to contribute to the research body of knowledge also rely on a support structure that recognizes and accepts the role of setbacks in the discovery process. In scientific research, three steps forward may rapidly result in two steps back.

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Professional skills and problem solving: the undergraduate research movement

I was recently asked to comment on “who benefits from research with students, and particularly how do undergraduates who do research benefit?” Like many of us, I have a set of answers in my pocket that I often use when I speak to colleges and universities about engaging undergraduate students in research. However, the audience for this question was not the group of like-minded peers who already believe in research as a fundamentally important thing in higher education.

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To dream or not to dream: what are the effects of immigration status and parental influence on Latino children’s access to education?

Much has been written about the potential of immigration reform to level the playing field for unauthorized children and youth in the United States. Research shows that in addition to, or perhaps ahead of, advocacy for immigration reform, including passage of the DREAM Act legislation in every state of the Union, there is a real need to work with Latino immigrant families on realizing the relationship between levels of formal schooling of immigrant children and parents.

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FEMS Microbiology Letters

MOOCs and higher education: evolution or revolution?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) burst into the public consciousness in 2012 after feverish press reports about elite US universities offering free courses, through the Internet, to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) course on Circuits and Electronics that had attracted 155,000 registrations was a typical example. Pundits proclaimed a revolution in higher education and numerous universities, fearful of being left behind, joined a rush to offer MOOCs.

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Exam preparation: More than just studying?

Do you know of a colleague who is extremely good at their job, yet cannot pass the professional exams required to ascend the career ladder? Or an exceptionally bright friend – who seems to fall apart during exam periods? Or do you yourself struggle when it comes to final assessments? I’m sure most of us are familiar with situations like this, as they are a very common occurrence.

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Long-term effects of slave exporting in West Africa

History matters. Historical events can sometimes have consequences that last long after the events have finished. An important part of Africa’s past is its history of slave exporting. Although Africa is not unique to the trading of slaves, the magnitude of slave exporting rose to levels not previously experienced anywhere else in the world.

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Building library collections – change and review

Libraries have been primarily identified by their collections – by those accessing the resources collected by individual libraries and for those not directly engaging imagining access. When Borges wrote “Paradise is a library, not a garden” he captured the concept of the library as a palace for the mind, connecting readers to the generations of works – from maps, manuscripts and incunabula to the new online resources of today.

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Will more (or less) high-stakes testing improve education?

Let’s take a pop quiz on the ongoing debate over high-stakes testing, an issue that is nothing less emotional than the way our schools teach our children. First questions, then answers: Does high-stakes testing improve education? Does it lead to better teaching and learning? Do countries with high-performing schools rely on it? Does it help narrow the achievement gaps among different racial and socioeconomic groups of students?

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